What's Inside that Container?

Press Release
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Photo credit Dept of Homeland Security

US Dept of Homeland Security develop a 'Container Security Test Bed' to facilitate research on container surveillance.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and its Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) in Atlantic City, NJ, have developed a way to test technical solutions to the need to find out quickly what's in a container.

The Container Security Test Bed (CSTB) – an outdoor “laboratory” allows researchers and developers from government, academia, and industry to explore novel ways to detect threats in a cargo container.

The CSTB is run by TSL engineers and simulates exactly the cantilever cranes used to unload container ships. The CSTB allows a container to be picked up, moved, and put down in minutes, mimicking both the way and the timeframe in which each container is taken off a ship and put onto the dock.

“Give me the right tools – a gas chromatograph, a mass spectrometer, and an hour’s time – and I can tell you what’s in a 40-foot container,” said Dave Masters, the S&T Program Manager who oversaw the creation of the Test Bed. “But a maritime container terminal can’t spare an hour. It needs its cranes to move goods, not run experiments.

The CSTB gives any new sensor system a real-world workout that replicates both screening the items in a shipping container, as well as the standard loading/unloading operations at a seaport. Sensors must survive the container being hoisted up, moved quickly, and slammed down – they cannot be so delicate that they cannot survive gritty port conditions.”

S&T researchers are encouraging technology developers to test any kind of sensor at the CSTB. The S&T Container Security Test Bed provides a unique opportunity for public and private sector partners to research and collaborate on novel ways to detect threats in cargo containers—working together to make our shipping industry more safe, secure and resilient.



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